Renegade Commencement – New beginnings for the Class of 2021

Last weekend, we celebrated our amazing Renegade Class of 2021 with a special Commencement Tribute that aired on KGET and streamed on Facebook.

BC featured several of our graduates on our Twitter stream leading up to the tribute. Jose Linares Ochoa was among them – he graduated with an Associate of Science in Kinesiology:

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing videos from the tribute production. You can also see all the videos on the 2021 Commencement Page.

Today, I’m kicking us off by sharing the first two videos from the production.

Student Life Director Nicky Damania‘s introductory remarks:

Music Professor John Gerhold‘s performance of the National Anthem:

We are so proud of our 2021 graduates, who persevered through multiple semesters of virtual learning to accomplish their academic goals. I know we will see great things from you in the future.

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, May 22, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

BC Spring Concert: “I Lived”

The BC College Choirs Spring Concert premiered on YouTube on Monday of this week. The video is now available for anyone to watch at any time.

The featured ensembles include the Bakersfield College Choir, Bakersfield College Renegade Chorus, and Bakersfield College Chamber Singers. Jennifer Garrett — the conductor, and Patrick Bender — the pianist.

Filming took place at the BC Indoor Theatre, Hart Park, Brookdale Assisted Living, and in Lebec.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to produce this amazing concert.

Enjoy this – you are in for a treat!

AAPI Heritage Month Conference Recordings

Andrew Bond uploaded the final recordings from last week’s events celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

The playlist is available at

Videos include AAPI Faculty & Staff Spotlight featuring Art Professor Joseph Tipay, The Delano Manongs & a Post-Viewing Discussion, and Readings & Conversation with Portia Choi.

Closing Day

I’m continuing to share videos from our Closing Day celebration, which was held May 11-13 with three days of video production shared on YouTube.

You can see all the videos on the Closing Day Website.

Here’s our first photo roll welcoming everyone to our Closing Day celebration:

And my opening remarks from Day 1:

And of course, our wonderful emcees – Todd Coston, Norma Rojas-Mora, Manny Mourtzanos, and Isabel Castaneda, who started our day with wit and humor:

Educators for Peace

This week, we continued the Peace Initiative’s Peace Seminar Series with a new installment: Educators for Peace. Kara McDonald served as moderator for panelists Richard McCrow, Jessica Wojtysiak, Bryan Hirayama, and Jeremy Staat.

Here is Kara’s introduction to the seminar:

And my opening remarks:

Celebrating Early College Initiative Awards finalists and recipients

Our Outreach & Early College team visited high schools this week to present Early College students with awards that they recently won as part of our BCSGA Student Leadership Awards ceremony. Students were nominated for this award by their instructors and counselors, and we are so proud of all of the dedication and initiative that they are demonstrating by completing high school and getting a head start on college at the same time.

The team would like to recognize and congratulate all finalists and award recipients:

  • Lidia Nunez (Nominated by Cynthia Zamora)- McFarland High School Early College- RECIPIENT
  • Jose Cortez (Nominated by Aaron Rothkopf)- South High School- RECIPIENT
  • Isaac Lara (Nominated by Christopher Pelletier)- McFarland High School- RECIPIENT
  • Annika Fernandez (Nominated by Christopher Pelletier)- McFarland High School Early College- FINALIST
  • Shelby Wood (Nominated by Amanda Brummer)- Liberty High School- FINALIST
  • Janelle Cruz (Nominated by Alyson Moss)- Liberty High School- FINALIST

These amazing pictures show some of the students mentioned above surrounded by the high school and BC staff who are supporting them through their educational journey. Congratulations to all finalists and recipients!!

Recipient Jose Cortez from South High School with his instructor Mr. Rothkopf, counselor Mrs. Ramey, and Principal Mrs. Grumling
Finalist Janelle Cruz from Liberty High School with our BC Early College Counselor Josie Guillen
Recipient Lidia Nunez from McFarland High School Early College with BC Counselor Cynthia Zamora.

Honoring our Kern County Resource (Foster) Parents

On Thursday, May 13, 2021, the BC Foster & Kinship Care Education (FKCE) program and Kern County Department of Human Services (DHS) hosted the 12th Annual Resource event to honor resource (foster) parents for their hard work and dedication. May is Foster Care Awareness Month and this event was just one way to celebrate our foster resource parents. Over 90 resource families participated and honored by their caseworkers and community support teams during this virtual ceremony.

The MC of the night was Monique Hawkins, who is the Foster Care Ombudsman for Kern County. Vanessa Frando, Assistant Director of the Kern County Department of Human Services, and Imelda Valdez, Executive Director of Categorical programs of Bakersfield College, provided a warm welcome to all attendees.

Throughout the evening, resource parents were honored for exemplary service to foster youth: Jessica & Timothy Swatzell adopted and cared for special needs children, and Noemi Sanchez, who started an organization called birthday boxes, providing party in a box for a child in foster care. When she learned that some children in foster care do not celebrate their birthdays, she made it her mission to ensure that no child should go without a celebration and started this organization. She has delivered over 50 boxes to foster children to help celebrate their birthdays.

The event also included a special presentation by Mike and Kristin Berry who are parent coaches, trainers, published authors, and podcasters. They are the founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and authored seven books related to foster children. They are parents of eight foster children, all of whom have been adopted.

Back to Campus

I’ve been loving seeing the photos our Renegade family is sharing as they return to our physical campus.

Here’s a picture of the Foundation team getting settled in their new office space in the Campus Center:

And here’s Craig Hayward and Sooyeon Kim from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness:

In the News

Romeo Agbalog named Kern County Farm Bureau Executive Director

Congratulations to KCCD Board of Trustees President Romeo Agbalog, who has been named Kern County Farm Bureau Executive Director.

“Romeo comes to the Farm Bureau with a wide breadth of experience having worked in both public and private sectors. He brings a wealth of knowledge of public policy and government at all levels,” said President of the Farm Bureau, John Moore.

BC COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics

BC will be holding COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Hindu Temple of Kern County on June 10 and July 8.

Upcoming clinics will also be held:

  • Tuesday, June 1 @ Emanuel Lutheran Church (1900 Baker Street) from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Thursday, June 3 in partnership with the Governor’s Office and KGET @ 2120 L St, Bakersfield, CA 93309 from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Saturday, June 5th BC Mass Clinic on campus from 10 am to 2 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Thursday, June 10 @ the Hindu Temple of Kern County (6700 Valley View, Bakersfield) from 5 to 8 p.m.: Moderna (18+)
  • Monday, June 21 @ BC Delano Campus from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Tuesday, June 29 @ Emanuel Lutheran Church (1900 Baker Street) from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Thursday, July 1 in partnership with the Governor’s Office and KGET @ 2120 L St, Bakersfield, CA 93309 from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Thursday, July 8 @ the Hindu Temple of Kern County (6700 Valley View, Bakersfield) from 5 to 8 p.m.: Moderna (18+)
  • Saturday, July 7th BC Mass Clinic on campus from 10 am to 2 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Monday, June 21 @ BC Delano Campus from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Saturday, August 7th BC Mass Clinic on campus from 10 am to 2 pm: Moderna (+18)

For more information, visit the BC Student Health & Wellness Center COVID-19 Vaccination page. Walk-ins are accepted at all clinics or register at or call (833) 422-4255 and schedule your appointment. Enter the zip code of 93305 to view the Bakersfield College Student Health and Wellness Center availability.

Spotted on Social Media

Rural Initiatives Director Abel Guzman earned his doctorate from USC. Congratulations, Dr. Guzman!

Endee Grijalva showed off her BC mask while celebrating Garden Pathways:

And I loved this inspirational message that Bill Moseley shared:


Congratulations to all our Student-Athletes graduating this semester:


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Closing out the 2020-21 academic year


This week, the CDC made an exciting announcement — fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting – except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

They also updated their “choosing safer activities” risk assessment chart, which shows the risk levels for unvaccinated and vaccinated people both wearing masks and not wearing masks, in a variety of settings. As you can see, fully vaccinated people are considered safe in every setting:

We are by no means completely out of this pandemic; but we are clearly starting to return to some level of normalcy. We must continue to keep up with our vaccination process so that more and more of our community is safe from the ravages of this disease.

At Bakersfield College, we are continuing to do our part by providing vaccination clinics. Please see upcoming clinics listed on our Vaccine Clinic webpage, and register on – enter the zip code of 93305 to view the Bakersfield COllege Student Health and Wellness Center availability.

Check out these photos from Friday’s clinic in Lamont – KCCD Trustee Yovani Jimenez has worked with the BC’s Health Clinic to get vaccines out to the communities in Arvin and Lamont.

The BC vaccination team
Dr. Nicky Damania, Chris Glaser, Trustee Yovani Jimenez

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, May 15, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

107th Commencement Celebration – Tomorrow night!

I invite everyone once again to celebrate the Class of 2021 with a special commencement tribute tomorrow Sunday, May 16, from 6-7:30 pm. The tribute will air on KGET Channel 17 and will be streamed on KGET’s website and KGET-TV17 Bakersfield Facebook. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view the stream on Facebook.

Every graduate who choses to participate will be honored with their photo and name read by BC faculty, staff and administrators. Congratulations to all the BC 2021 Graduates! We look forward to tuning in along with your friends, family and community to celebrate your achievements.

The Twitter post below includes a great video to promote this event:

Closing Week 2021

This week, Bakersfield College celebrated closing week with three days of productions, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Here is outgoing BCSGA President Gian Gayatao. I’ll be sharing the link to view the rest of the videos in my next blog – our team is still working on getting everything prepared and posted.

Spring Virtual Choral Concert

If you joined closing week, you were able to experience the excellent vocal talents of BC’s choirs. Experience the Bakersfield College Choirs spring virtual concert “I lived” based on the song of that title. The concert featuring the BC College Choir, Chamber Singers, Renegade Chorus, Jenn Garrett, conductor, and Patrick Bender, collaborative pianist will premier Monday, May 17, 2021 at 7:00 pm on the BC Choirs’ YouTube Channel.

Check out these photos that Jenn Garrett posted from the production:

In her post, she shared these great words:

“BC Renegade Chorus met last week to film for our concert. It was exciting and they were amazing. We started at Hart Park right by the water and later moved to the BC Indoor Theatre for the second piece. This has been quite a journey and I’m so grateful for the singers patience, enthusiasm, and determination to make music in any way we could over the pandemic. I’m excited for them to watch the fruit of their labors Monday night as we premiere the concert in out BC Choirs YouTube channel. Come see all of her hard work at 7 pm May 17!

I am also reminded of the power of music. We went to film Sebastian Lee on cello at Hart Park and the location we wanted to use for a few minutes was occupied by two couples who had plenty of drinks and food and were distancing in the shallow water. We asked if we could use one portion of the space for a few minutes and were met with great hostility. But as they heard the music their demeanor completely changed and they were intrigued and asked us questions and wanted to watch the concert. Music has a way of bringing people together and I’m so blessed to have it in my life.”

Educators for Peace

On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, at 5:00 pm, I invite you to join me at the “Educators for Peace” panel. I will be hosting with Student Success and Equity Program Manager Kara McDonald moderating the discussion with Richard McCrow, Jessica Wojtysiak, Bryan Hirayama, and Jeremy Staat. This is the second panel in the BC Peace Initiative; I highlighted the first panel, “Mothers for Peace,” in last week’s post.

For more information and to register for Zoom, see the BC calendar event Educators for Peace.

First check presentation for Rotary Peace Project

Cheryl Scott and Mindy Wilmot, both Rotarians and part of BC’s Peace Initiative team, were guests at Bakersfield East Rotary Club this week where they were presented with a $1,000 check that will start a Rotary Peace Fund within the BC Foundation.  The fund will be used to place Rotary Peace Poles in BC’s future peace gardens and throughout campus.  As a result of the growing partnership and increased interest in peacebuilding, local Rotary Clubs are also planning to place poles throughout the community as well!

Virtual Express Enrollment Event On May 19th

Bakersfield College Outreach, with support from Financial Aid, Counseling, and more, will host a Virtual Express Enrollment Event on May 19th from 12pm to 8pm to help new and continuing students enroll and get the classes they need.

Register here: or visit the website at

Outreach spreads the good word about BC’s academic programs and student services by reaching out to local high schools, supporting future students, and assisting them through the application and matriculation process.

There are also three more express enrollment events planned for this summer on June 2nd, July 7th, and August 11th from 12pm to 8pm.

BC Jazz Releases “The Quarantine Sessions Volume II”

Students in the Jazz Program directed by Kris Tiner have released a follow up to last year’s “The Quarantine Sessions” album. “The Quarantine Sessions Volume II” features 11 original tunes – over 52 minutes of music – created, performed, recorded, and mixed entirely by students working from home. They used Zoom to collaborate and discuss ideas, cloud storage to share charts and files, cell phones and any home recording technology they could get their hands on to capture sounds and songs that were inspired by these strange and unprecedented times.

Please take a listen and download a copy! All proceeds from sales benefit the Bakersfield College Jazz Program.

EOPS/CARE/NextUp/CalWORKs/AB 540 Recognition Ceremony

The EOPS, CARE, NextUp, CalWORKs, and AB540 student support programs hosted their Annual Recognition Ceremony virtually to honor and acknowledge the achievements of their graduating program participants. Their counselors and advisors presented awards to twenty-seven students on one of the following categories: Outstanding Participant, Highest G.P.A, Outstanding Professionalism, Academic Excellence, and Perseverance. Students were invited to pick up their award during an organized drive through event following the recognition ceremony. Over 234 students graduated from the listed categorical programs this year and our department staff and faculty are very proud of our students. Congratulations to the Class of 2021.

Back to Campus

While our Spring Semester has come to a close, our campus locations are a flurry of action as we continue to come back to work on our physical campuses.

Here’s Kalina Hill sharing a snap of the new Campus Center:

Endee Grijalva shared these snaps from the Arvin Hub:

In the News

Political Science Professor Allen Bolar discusses population change

Recently, it was announced that California would be losing a House seat as the state’s population is shrinking for the first time in history.

Political Science Professor Allen Bolar shared some insight into reasons behind that shift, including housing costs:

Community Voices: Roots of Early College have grown deep in Kern

BC Counselor Jesus Oropeza, who focuses on Dual Enrollment, Early College and STEM Pathways, wrote a piece in the Bakersfield Californian about the Early College Program and its successes in Kern County.

“We should all be so proud of these communities for adopting Early College in their own unique way, providing educational pathways, and ensuring there is equity for all students. With our ever-changing world during this pandemic, our institutions have had to rethink our engagement with students to be extra intentional, reaching them where they are and serving them in the most supportive ways.”

Jesus Oropeza

Community Voices: Bakersfield College takes on auto-enrollment

Ashlea Ward, director for Outreach and Early College, shared some insight into the new auto-enroll program at Bakersfield College. This opt-in program allows allows BC staff and administrators to enroll students into their chosen classes automatically.

“All students that opted into the auto-enroll program received a full year of priority registration, as well as auto-enrollment for both semesters during their first year at BC, making it easier for these students to choose the classes they need to graduate on time. Finally, students always have the ability to meet with a counselor after they have been enrolled and adjust their schedule, or go into their student account and adjust their schedules independently, which will always be the case, even beyond the pandemic.”

Spotted on Social Media

Last week I shared Mento Buru’s reimagining of the BC Fight Song. This week, I’d like to share the video they posted on their Instagram page, featuring BC’s own Tim Heasley and the BC Cheer Team:

BCSGA reminded everyone that the Student Pantry is still available:

BC Rural Initiatives Executive Director Abel Guzman shared this picture of KCCD Trustee Yovani Jimenez, who stopped by the Arvin hub:

The BC Library staff ended the semester with a group Zoom photo:

And check out Dr. Daisy Gonzales, Deputy Chancellor of California Community Colleges, sharing some Renegade Pride:


2021 Renegade Football Schedule Released

This week we were all very excited to see that the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) released the fall 2021 football schedule. Our Renegades are planning to return to action in traditional 10-game season this coming fall. To view the schedule on the website, click here. They will open on the road playing at LA Pierce on Sep. 4th, and then have their first home game of the season in Memorial Stadium on Sep. 11th hosting El Camino. This will be the first football game played at Memorial Stadium in what will be almost 22 months! The last Renegade home football game was Nov. 16, 2019 when they played Canyons in the 2019 season finale. We are looking forward to the fall and for football to start once again!


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Mothers building peace and goodwill – Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers

Eisha Christian, Paul Christian, Pam Christian, Sonya Christian

Peace Initiatives at Bakersfield College: Young Mothers for Peace

In honor of Mothers Day this weekend, I wanted to share an update from the BC Peace Initiative.

The Mothers for Peace kick-off event was held on March 30. Norma Rojas-Mora moderated the discussion with Sandy Woo-Cater, Lauren Skidmore, Pawan Gill, and Antrenette Carr.

I wanted to highlight part of that discussion. In this video, the panelists look to the future, imaging their children as adults and what hopes they have for their children and the world their children will inhabit:

You can find all the videos from the discussion on the BC Peace Initiative Website (check the “Peace Projects” tab).

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, May 8, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

Asian-American Heritage Month

In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend Asian-American Heritage Week, and two years later, May was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

Originally, Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week had been recognized at the start of May for two reasons: On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States; and on May 10, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the First Transcontinental Railroad – an engineering feat completed using Chinese labor.

It was 178 years ago yesterday that a 14-year-old fisherman named Manjiro arrived in the country by way of a whaling ship. He was the first recorded Japanese national to set foot on American soil. He was part of a crew on a fishing trip near their coastal Japanese village when a sudden storm left them adrift. Eventually, they washed up on a desert island 300 miles away, stranded for five months until an American whaling ship happened by the island to take on sea turtles.

The ship’s captain, William Whitfield, adopted young Manjiro as his son, and renamed him John Mung. John Mung/Manjiro came with Whitfield to America, where he was educated in English and studied navigation.

Please join me this month in honoring our Asian-American and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters.

AAPI Heritage Month One-Day Conference 5/13

Speaking of Asian American Heritage Month – next Thursday, May 13, will be the AAPI Heritage Month One-Day Conference, celebrating Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in our community. All the events will be held virtually on Zoom, and prior registration is required.

The schedule of events is:

  • 4-5 pm: AAPI Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Joseph Tipay, Professor of Art
  • 5:30-6:30 pm: The Delano Manongs and a Post-Viewing Discussion
  • 7-8 pm: Readings and Conversation with Portia Choi

Find out more about the events – and register to attend – at

I also wanted to share this poem from Jack Hernandez that news of the BC Peace Garden inspired him to write:

A Garden of Peace

There is a garden

where we might gather

to walk and talk as one

to find the innocence

of peace with ourselves

and others in love’s

tranquility and forgiveness,

a garden where

all voices are heard

all lives are embraced

in joyful grace.

Pep ‘Sounds’: Mento Buru takes on BC ‘Renegade Fight Song’

Local band Mento Buru recently recorded a 3-song EP, “Renegade Sounds,” featuring new takes on Bakersfield College’s fight song.

The Bakersfield Californian published an article about the project, which was a collaboration between Mento Buru, the BC Commercial Music program, and the BC Foundation.

“Mento Buru can trace our formation to meeting and performing as members of the Renegade Marching Knights,” Matt Munoz, lead vocalist and BC alumni, said in a news release. “The ‘Renegade Fight Song’ was the first piece of music we were handed along with our uniform. I can still remember marching on the field for half-time shows and hyping up the crowd with the fight song after a touchdown like it was yesterday. The reaction and electricity of those crowds was unforgettable. We played that song in its traditional form countless times.”

The three versions are:

KGET also put together a great video about this collaboration. Check it out below:

Pursuing the Dream Conference

The Bakersfield College AB 540/ Undocumented Students Program and Rural Initiatives hosted the first Annual Pursuing the Dream conference on Friday, April 30, with over 200 listed RSVP and 81 active participants.

Students, educators and community members from Kern County and beyond had the opportunity to hear from the inspiring Dr. Gloria Itzel Montiel during her keynote address. After the keynote address the attendees participated in a number of workshops presented by the UFW foundation (Immigration Policy Updates​), mental health advocates (Mental Wellness Care Practices​), BC and CSUB staff (Student Self Advocacy, Path to BC/CSUB​), BC students (Beyond Undocumented Students: Missed Status Families), alumni (In this Together), faculty members (Decolonizing the Classroom & Power of Image), and elected officials (Organizing for Change).

BC Student Health COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics

On Friday, the BC Student Health Center held another vaccine clinic, at David Nelson Pocket Park.

Nicky Damania shared these pictures from the clinic:

Bakersfield City Councilmember Andrae Gonzales also shared this photo of BC Nursing students from the clinic:

Be sure to check the Vaccine Clinics page for information about upcoming BC clinics. Upcoming clinics include:

  • May 14, from 10 am to 12:30 pm, at 7th Day Adventist Church in Lamont
  • June 10, from 5-8 pm, at the Hindu Temple of Kern County
  • July 8, from 5-8 pm, at the Hindu Temple of Kern County

The BC Student Health Center has administered over 3,500 vaccine doses so far!

May the 4th Be With You- From Outreach & Early College

The Outreach & Early College team post with the Star Wars characters of choice.

The Outreach & Early College Team celebrated May the 4th this past week. The team brought their Star Wars stuffed toys to the morning meeting for a photo op. One team member who shall remain anonymous even shared their Star Wars themed tattoo! The meeting closed with a dance break in true Outreach & Early College fashion. May the 4th be with you!

The meeting closed with a dance session. This move is called “The Ashlea”.

107th Commencement Celebration

As we approach the end of the semester, I wanted to invite everyone to celebrate the Class of 2021 with a special commencement tribute on Sunday, May 16, from 6-8 pm.

Join us May 16, 2021 at 6 p.m. on KGET Channel 17 or on Telemundo Valle Central Channel 13 (with antennae, 17.3). This event will also be streamed on KGET’s website and KGET-TV17 Bakersfield Facebook Sunday, May 16, 2021 from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view the stream on Facebook.

Every graduate who chose to participate will be honored with their photo and name read by BC faculty, staff and administrators.

Graduates, we are incredibly proud of what you’ve accomplished this year, despite all the obstacles, and look forward to tuning in along with your friends, family and community to celebrate your achievements.

Back to Campus

I’ve been loving the photos our Renegade Family is sharing as we make the return to our physical campus. I love seeing these smiling eyes – even with the masks you can see how happy our colleagues are to be back together in person.

Nicole Alvarez, from Outreach & Early College, posted this photo with Steve Watkin, Ashlea Ward, & Angela Williams to her Twitter (while on campus for the Welcome Back drone footage shoot):

Jenny Frank snapped this photo of our Veterans Resource Center staff transitioning back to campus, with the note:

“We are anxious and exited to begin serving our veteran and military-affiliated students IN PERSON again!”

The Academic Technology team was back together:

Here’s a few members from our Executive Office:

Jennifer Jett was back to work in her office this week:

In The News

Auto Program helps cut down on thefts

KGET featured this news story about how the Bakersfield Police Department partnered with Motor City and students from BC’s Automotive Program to etch unique numbers on catalytic converters in an attempt to cut down on thefts. With the numbers, they can easily be tracked down.

Spotted on Social Media

Jennifer Garrett shared an exciting update from performing arts as our musical groups get back to campus:

The Padrinos de Bakersfield College Facebook page shared these great photos from the #PaletasConProposito Spring scholarship fundraiser:

Kalina Hill shared support for the Academic Support Programs team:

And Athletics got into the Star Wars Day spirit with this post:


Coach Painton Wins Game #600

Huge congratulations go out to Head Baseball Coach Tim Painton who earned his 600th victory this last weekend after his team beat Antelope Valley in a doubleheader at Gerry Collis Field. No other coach in Renegade Baseball history has won as many games! Coach Painton has been coaching at BC for 26 years and has built quite the program in that time. In addition to having the premier baseball field in the state, he has had 199 student-athletes receive scholarships to continue their educations and playing careers at the 4-year level. In the same time period, the Renegades have had 38 players selected in the Major League Baseball draft including major leaguers Colby Lewis, Philip Dumatrait, Jacob Woods, Sean Barker, and Justin Miller. We are excited for Coach Painton and are glad to have this living Renegade legend at BC!

That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

BC — Heading back to our physical campus

These past few weeks have been very busy at Bakersfield College, and as we go into the even faster-paced final weeks of the Spring 2021 Semester, I took a day to head out to my daughter’s place at Marina del Rey

Sunset at the Marina. April 30, 2021

Quiet moments like these clear our minds of clutter and give us the clarity to be bold … to be brave. To dare to do mighty things.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.

Talking about boldness and braveness …. a schoolgirl in 1982 impacted the Cold War when she penned a letter to Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov, asking him if he planned to attempt to start a nuclear war with the United States. The striking innocence and simplicity of that letter, against the backdrop of world leaders threatening the globe, gave world leaders reason to pause. Andropov invited “America’s Youngest Ambassador” to visit the U.S.S.R. for two weeks in June, to see that “in the Soviet Union, everyone is for peace and friendship among peoples.”

Precious moments of tranquil beauty and seemingly small actions sometimes cause ripples that can make the world a better place.

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, May 1, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

2021 Honors Celebration

On Thursday, the 2021 Honors Celebration went virtual with a special video premiering on Bakersfield College’s YouTube channel.

The 2021 Honors Celebration recognizes student recipients of scholarships and/or awards for the Spring 2021 and upcoming 2021-2022 academic year. This pre-recorded event featured BC administrators and Bakersfield City Councilmember Andrae Gonzales, as well as name recognition for student recipients.

Honorees were able to come to campus on Friday for a drive-through medal pickup. Thank you to Heather Pennella, Courtney Carter, Amanda Stone, Cheryl Scott, and Heather’s brother Eric Pennella, with support from Nicky Damania, for making sure our students were able to receive their medals.   

Check out the video below:

Student Leadership & Involvement Awards Virtual Ceremony

Also on Thursday, the Office of Student Life held The Student Leadership and Involvement Awards Ceremony to recognize the accomplishments of our registered student organizations and various leaders at Bakersfield College. This event is to acknowledge their achievements to better the College community. It is an opportunity to showcase the wide variety of activities that occurred this year, and to make visible ingenuity and creative talent.

Danyel Harris served as emcee of the event.

You can see a recording from the Zoom event on the BCSGA Facebook page.

Congratulations Alejandro Hernandez!

Delano High School and Bakersfield College graduate Alejandro Hernandez earned both his high school diploma and his AA from Bakersfield College in just 3 years, through the Early College program. He has been named a Gates Scholar, and is now headed to Berkeley in the Fall.

Check out this video honoring his accomplishments:

Congratulations Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg!

Kern Community College District Board of Trustees member Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg was elected to the 2021 California Community Colleges Trustees Board.

The CCCT serves a major role within the Community College League of California. The new board members begin their three-year terms in June 2021. Meeting five times a year, the 22-member board (including a student trustee) provides leadership and direction to ensure a strong voice for locally elected governing board members.

Nan represents KCCD area III and was elected in November 2018. She previously had been a professor at Porterville College, before becoming an administrator at Bakersfield College, retiring as Vice President of Instruction.

Jazz Students Play On

Students in the Jazz Studies program directed by Professor Kris Tiner have been keeping busy working on new music in the Outdoor Theater every Monday afternoon. Here is a YouTube compilation of recent rehearsal footage:

The Jazz Combo recently played at the Operation Vaccination clinic in southeast Bakersfield, and they will be giving a free lunchtime concert at the Bakersfield Museum of Art’s outdoor sculpture garden on Saturday, May 8 for Second Saturday presented by The Hub of Bakersfield. The BC Faculty Jazz Combo with Kris Tiner, Paul Cierley, Miller Wrenn, and Kyle Burnham will also perform.

The Jazz Ensemble has been exploring the music of keyboardist and bandleader Sun Ra, who famously claimed he was from Saturn and pioneered the Afro-Futurist aesthetic with his band, the Intergalactic Myth Science Solar Arkestra. You can catch the BC Jazz Ensemble’s Sun Ra Sessions on Instagram Live (@bcjazzstudies) from 5-6 pm on May 3 and 10.

Jazz students also continue to meet weekly on Zoom. They recently welcomed New York City trumpeter, producer, and educator Lee Hogans as a guest speaker. Hogans talked about touring with Prince, Jay-Z, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Maceo Parker, and Marcus Miller, as well as producing records for Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes and others. The students gained a wealth of insight from Hogans’ stories and his inspiring advice on how to build a successful career in the music industry.

Lee Hogans

The students are currently putting the finishing touches on collaborative recording projects that will be compiled into the follow-up to the “Quarantine Sessions” album released on Bandcamp last spring. Stay tuned for more info!

Renegade Equity Series: Session 2

On Wednesday, the Renegade Leaders and EODAC sponsored the second session of the Renegade Equity Series. The session consisted of a faculty panel engaging in conversation about how to create more inclusive classrooms, keeping in mind student statements from our first session.

The Renegade Leaders came together in the fall of 2020. The participants include faculty, chairs, deans, and directors from the Faculty Chairs and Directors Council who volunteered to facilitate conversations and workshops on diversity, equity, and inclusion as it applies to higher education.

TRIO Grant

The Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) are Federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds; targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate programs.

Check out this welcome video from Dr. Kimberly Bligh.

Reflections from Outside

Sara Wallace, English Professor at Bakersfield College, has published another entry in her blog retitled “Reflections from Outside” on Medium.

Her blog is focused on her experiences teaching English in prison facilities for Bakersfield College. She changed the title from “Reflections on the Inside” when the prisons closed to faculty. She has been working as a full-time instructor at a total of five different prisons since Fall 2019.

For the entire blog entry, go to the following link:

EOPS Hosts Wellness Workshop

The EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs/NextUp/AB 540 team hosted a Wellness Workshop where students got the opportunity to learn about the importance of mental health, how to manage stress, and the benefits that painting has on mental wellness. After a short presentation, students had the opportunity to attend a painting session with Bakersfield’s Blush and Brush company. The students enjoyed their study break as they painted a colorful piece.

Renegade Room Edible Schoolyard Dinner

Bakersfield College’s Culinary Arts students with the Renegade Room prepared an outdoor, in-person dining experience in conjunction with Barbara Grimm’s Edible Schoolyard. Community leaders enjoyed fresh-baked pizza, roasted chicken, and a scrumptious strawberry shortcake dessert.

Thank you to Norma Rojas-Mora for sharing these photos:

Poetry Corner

Please enjoy this poem from Jack Hernandez:


                             As he packed for another trip

                             he thought of that other life

                             the one he might have taken

                             had the facts been different

                             had his heart opened elsewhere,

                             no doubt he would have dressed

                             in the same current fashion

                             driven a polished car,

                             But he would not have packed

                             for this familiar journey far

                             to be with those who have lived

                             in his heart for years,

                             so close to its beating

                             that when he returned alone

                             he unpacked their laughter

                             to fill his silent home.

Back to Campus

Josie Guillen posted these pictures on Facebook from Outreach & Early College staff who have started working on campus this week:

Nick Strobel shared some photos of inside the new Campus Center/ABC Building:

In the News

Community Voices: Dolores Huerta Exhibit visits Bakersfield College via Smithsonian Institution

Professors Oliver Rosales, Ronald Wrest, and Jeffrey Huston wrote about the Dolores Huerta Exhibit, and its importance for education in the Central Valley, in a piece in the Bakersfield Californian.

“The project team at Bakersfield College is hopeful that local teachers will take advantage of this important resource for students and the general public. We are optimistic that the virtual tour will excite young people about the history of Dolores Huerta and the importance of Kern County to Latino civil rights history. Interested viewers can access the virtual tour at”

Fun Photos & Spotted on Social Media

I love this photo of Manny Mourtzanos and KCCD Trustee Kay Meek:

I was able to see my dear friend Janet Tarjan on campus this week:

Bakersfield College Adult Education shared this update on Facebook:

Members of the Bakersfield College Adult Ed Team had the privilege of seeing all the upgrades happening across the panorama campus today, during a tour of our Industrial Automation labs!

BC Rural Initiatives shared a picture from their rural faculty orientation on Zoom:

Sondra Keckley is getting a good haul from her tomato plants:

The Jones Art Gallery shared this beautiful photograph by Monica Herring for Digital Photography, part of the Bakersfield College Student Art Show:


Athletics scores this last week

This last week was a BIG week for Renegade Athletics.

On Thursday Baseball and Softball hosted their first conference games on the Spring II season, both hosting Antelope Valley.

Softball won both games very easily 4-2 in the first game and 12-6 in the second game.

Baseball split their doubleheader winning the first game 5-0 and losing the second game 9-8.

Track and Field hosted Allan Hancock and Santa Monica in the heat of the afternoon sun in Memorial Stadium on Friday with the women’s team taking first and the men second.

Swim traveled to compete at Mt. Sac on Friday and came away with a number of individual first place finishes by both the men and women. A great week of competition by all our Renegades!


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

KCCD – Daring Mighty Things

Last Sunday, I read Nick Strobel’s article in the Bakersfield Californian about the Ingenuity helicopter – which has now had several successful test flights on Mars.

Check out this video from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) showing the first flight, on Monday, April 19th:

Innovation at its very best – and, yes, ingenuity – of all of the scientists and engineers who came together and were able to successfully fly a helicopter on the Red Planet. It was no easy task. As Nick mentions in his article, the surface air pressure on Mars makes it equivalent to 100,000 feet altitude on Earth, and the highest helicopter flight on Earth has only made it to about 41,000 feet.

It was against the backdrop of this inspirational scientific achievement that I was honored to be named the 6th Chancellor of the Kern Community College District, succeeding current Chancellor Tom Burke when he retires this summer.

April 19th felt auspicious to me for the public announcement — the same day that Ingenuity took its first flight on another world. The words “Dare Mighty Things” – JPL’s motto, first attributed to Theodore Roosevelt – written in binary code inside the parachute of the Perseverance Mars lander.

Loved the news coverage. The KGET youtube video made it to my hometown in Quilon, Kerala. Check it out

Then woke up to Steven Mayer‘s featured article in The Bakersfield Californian, front page, above the fold. Beautiful pictures by Alex Horvath.

Christian asked employees in the district — and by extension, the entire community — to join together, to “lock arms and do mighty things.”

At the Kern Community College District, we predict the future by creating it

Read more at:

I want to thank Trustees Kay Meek and Romeo Agbalog for their kind words during the announcement.

Kay Meek:

Romeo Agbalog:

And a few photos from the event:

I am deeply honored and humbled to have been selected to lead the Kern Community College District. Together we will dare mighty things for all the students we serve.

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, April 24, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

President’s Virtual Seminar Series – Campus Reopening

This week, we had two more President’s Virtual Seminar Series forums to discuss our return to campus.

On Tuesday, the Student Work Group provided student perspectives. Chef Anna Melby and student Amanda Atksinson discussed what it’s been like on campus for culinary arts students. We also heard from Professor Thomas Rush and Industrial Automation student Benjamin Neville. Bradley Cramer and Monica Huyck also gave an update from academic support services.

On Thursday, we had more updates from the Instructional Work Group, led by Dean Richard McCrow. Panelists on Thursday included three psychology professors – Isaias Hernandez, Christina Howell, and David Riess.

Thank you to Nicky Damania, who introduced both sessions this week, as well as to Earl Parsons and Todd Coston for their continued support in this series.

You can find all the President’s Virtual Seminar Series videos on the Bakersfield college website.

As you can see from our forums, we are hard at work preparing for the return to campus – check out this photo of Bill Moseley, Dean of Academic Technologies, and Eileen Pierce, Program Manager for Academic Support Programs, as they were on campus getting ready this week:

2021 Bakersfield College Art Student Show

The directors of the Wylie and May Louise Jones Gallery are pleased to present the 2021 Bakersfield College Art Student Exhibition. The exhibit includes student made artwork, created in Bakersfield College art courses in media ranging from charcoal drawings, acrylic paintings, photography, graphic design, ceramics, video, and many others. The work was juried by Seattle based artist Teddy “Stat” Phillips.    

In past years, this exhibition has been located physically in the Wylie and May Louise Jones Gallery on the Bakersfield College campus. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, this will be our second year displaying the work as a digital exhibition. This exhibit represents the commitment and strength of our students in the face of uncertain times and displays the resiliency Bakersfield College art students have in their continued efforts working in a virtual environment.  

The work is available now at

You can also find and share the work at our social media sites below. Please support our BC art students by liking and sharing with your networks:

For more information please contact the Jones Gallery directors:

NEH Conference with Mark Arax Keynote

This past Thursday saw the final events related to the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project Energizing Humanities in California’s Southern San Joaquin Valley.

The day’s panels were dedicated to the memory of Gerald Haslam, who served as our grant project’s first speaker in 2017 and was an Oildale native, BC alumnus, prolific and celebrated author, and longtime educator. Gerry passed away last week and will be missed.

Mark Arax

The one-day conference culminated with a speaking engagement featuring Mark Arax.

Mark Arax is an author and journalist whose writings on California and the West have received numerous awards for literary nonfiction. He is a former staffer at the Los Angeles Times and The California Sunday Magazine, and his books include a memoir of his father’s murder, a collection of essays about the West, and the best-selling The King of California. Much of Arax’s work focuses on the Central Valley, and his most recent book, The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California, uses family memoir, history, and extensive reportage on the land to tell the epic story of California’s invention and reinventions through the bending of water.

Other topics included:

Place Based Pedagogy and Our Experiences in the “Energizing Humanities in California’s San Joaquin Valley” Grant Project, which saw project directors Oliver Rosales, Josh Ottum, and Andrew Bond join current and previous faculty fellows to talk about their experiences during the run of the grant and how it has influenced their work.

Narrating the Southern San Joaquin Valley: Journalism and the Past and Future of Storytelling in the Region featured panelists Mark Arax, Olivia Garcia, Jose Gaspar, Lois Henry, Joe Moore, and Reyna Olaguez. Moderators were Erin Auerbach, BC journalism professor; and Haley Duval, Editor-in-Chief of The Renegade Rip.

Chris Cruz-Boone

First Annual Pursuing the Dream Conference

The AB 540/Undocumented Students Program and Rural Initiatives at Bakersfield College will be hosting our first annual Pursuing the Dream Conference: Resources-Advocacy-Empowerment for our Undocumented Student Community on Friday, April 30th from 1:30 PM -5:30 PM. This one-day conference is designed for students, educators, family, and community members to receive information on pursuing higher education, including the resources and support available to the undocumented student community.

Throughout the conference you will hear from one of the first undocumented students to receive a degree from Harvard, UFW Foundation lawyers, licensed therapists, BC and CSUB staff, students, and more! Please encourage your undocumented students and campus allies to attend.

Student Leadership & Involvement Awards Virtual Ceremony

Please join us for The Student Leadership and Involvement Awards Ceremony, coordinated by the Office of Student Life, which recognizes the accomplishments of our registered student organizations and various leaders at Bakersfield College. This event is to acknowledge their achievements to better the College community. It is an opportunity to showcase the wide variety of activities that occurred this year and to demonstrate ingenuity and creative talent. Let’s get together virtually and applaud the recipients!

The event will be on Thursday, April 29, from 6-7 pm. Registration is required by Wednesday, April 28. You can RSVP at

BC Faculty speak to Liberty High students

Over the 2020 winter break, Professor Jeff Newby of the History Department was asked to join in on a dual enrollment history class at Liberty High School. Ms. Alyson Moss, one of Liberty’s first dual enrollment instructors, has worked closely with BC to provide her students with an experience as close as possible to actually being in a college classroom. Professor Newby spent the day meeting with three of her classes to go over how to construct historical-argumentative essays.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience helping bridge the gap between high school and college.

On April 13, 2021, Ms. Alyson Moss invited Professors Jeff Newby and Olivia Garcia back to Liberty High School, this time to speak to Liberty’s National Social Studies Honors Society (NSSHS). The purpose of the NSSHS is promote scholarship and academic excellence in social studies, as well as encourage an active interest in social studies in students’ communities and school environments.

Ms. Moss introduced both professors who spoke at length about their own personal journeys towards becoming college professors, advice they had picked up along the way, and the importance of earning a degree in the humanities. They then fielded questions from over 40 students ranging from Professor Garcia’s time as a journalist to Professor Newby’s time teaching abroad.

Umoja Community celebrates creative expression

Umoja Community program offered two recent Indabas to showcase the arts and foster creativity through expression. The Indabas (important meeting with important people) are offered each Monday to engage and connect students.

Poet/vocalist/activist Gina Loring

Poet/vocalist/activist Gina Loring spoke and sang a couple of her poems and offered writing prompts to empower students. She told students, “your voice is your liberation.”

Blake Burton said the prompts around identity and commitment “really made me think.”

Performer/writer/musician Dahlak Brathwaite

The other artist was spoken word/performer/musician Dahlak Brathwaite. Umoja partnered with BC’s Jazz Studies program to bring Dahlak to BC.

Dahlak shared clips from his solo play and film Spirit Trials. Those works traced the history of African Americans through music with the theme of adaptation.

In the film, the Sacramento native said sometimes you have to be someone else, but “the key is to never to lose yourself because to adapt is to be human so that you don’t disappear. What good is adapting if it means part of you isn’t still here.”

After that line, the chat was popping with, “that was so dope” and “whew.”

With the Jazz ensemble students, Dahlak talked about adapting from the creative and musical side. He explained how he merged forms (drama, spoken word, music, and poetry) to find the best platform for his message. He added that through freestyling he has learned not to be afraid to mess up.

Zariyah, an Umoja student and theatre major, said she admired how open and free he was – both creatively and in his worldview.

These two examples of creativity and expression sparked something inside students.

Umoja Community is a program designed for motivated African-American students to increase success and retention. It includes coursework with a cultural component, academic and cultural trips, and counseling support to keep students on track to graduate.

Thanks to Dr. Paula L. Parks, Umoja Coordinator, and Professor Kris Tiner, Jazz Studies lead, for partnering to expose students to the arts.

Welcome Marcos Rodriguez!

From email from Mike Giacomini:

Good afternoon,

I am very pleased to announce that Marcos Rodriguez will be joining the Bakersfield College team as the Executive Director of Facilities and Operations and will effectively lead this ever-growing department and teams as we continue to maneuver through the pandemic while simultaneously expanding our Measure J program on our campuses.  Marcos will be joining our Maintenance and Operations team on Monday, 4/26/21 to continue serving our community at each of our BC locations across Kern County.

Mr. Rodriguez is a local Kern County citizen who attended our own Bakersfield College and went on to getting a bachelor degree in Environmental Resource Management, and masters degrees in Industrial and Technical Studies and in Business Administration.

With this specialized education, Marcos has served schools with close to twenty years of management experience in local college campuses as well as elementary, middle and high school districts – all in Kern County.   

Please join me in welcoming Marcos Rodriguez to the Renegade family.

Commencement Committee – Hard at Work

The Commencement Committee has been hard at work. Kevin Ganger, Jeff Huston, Renegade student Julian, John Gerhold, and Josh Ottum joined Monika Scott to record the National Anthem this week. Be sure to tune in on May 16th to see this performance as we honor and celebrate the Renegade Class of 2021.

The special televised event will air on May 16th at 6 p.m. on KGET Channel 17 or on Telemundo Valle Central Channel 13 (with antennae, 17.3). This event will also be streamed on KGET’s website and KGET-TV17 Bakersfield Facebook. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view the stream on Facebook.

Poetry Corner

Please enjoy this poem sent to me by Jack Hernandez:


Have I had enough?
the seasons keep coming
ignoring the cries
of those scrambling below
to find a branch
above the flood.
a hill from which
to watch the sun’s
upward glow.

Mornings continue
to unfold
familiar pages
and I’ll reread them,
I have not yet
had enough,
the words   the words
always new.

Updates from EOPS

EOPS Regalia Distribution

The EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs/NextUp team hosted their annual Cap & Gown event to provide prospective BC graduates with their commencement regalia. Over 223 students visited the drive through event to pick up their free cap & gown as well as a certificate for their participation with the programs. EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs/NextUp wants to congratulate this year’s graduating class!

CSUB Transfer Information Session

Bakersfield College’s EOPS Department partnered with CSUB’s EOP and Office of Admissions to better prepare and inform students on the process of transferring in Fall 2021 and future semesters. CSUB’s EOP department was able to provide information to students to help them understand their EOP admissions process, services and resources offered upon transfer. CSUB’s Office of Admissions provided updates, reminders, and helpful tips for students transferring in the Fall. CSUB informed BC students on the transfer admissions requirements for their upcoming Spring 2022 application.

Career Education Workshops for EOPS students

Bakersfield College’s EOPS department partnered with Career Education to provide three informative workshops for the EOPS student groups. Through these workshops, Career Education provided training on Professional Resume Building, Jobspeaker, and Interview Skills which will support students with securing employment at BC and/or in the community.

In the News

Community Voices; College lets you broaden your worldview

This week, journalism professor and Renegade Rip adviser Erin Auerbach wrote a piece in the Bakersfield Californian about the importance of college for students to find the best path for their own futures.

“Taking a class in welding does not force you to become a welder. But it will teach you a skill that might prove useful for future options. Opportunity abounds, so take a chance on yourself. Attend an informational meeting. Sign up for that class that looks interesting.”

Kern County leaders say Chauvin trial is just the beginning

On Tuesday, former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd, whose death launched widespread protest across the country last summer.

Bakersfield College’s Tommy Tunson spoke with 23ABC about the need the change our training and education programs for police officers.

“The training and education that we currently have, I think, is not enough to address racial equity and social justice in the curriculum in police academies,” he said.

Spotted on Social Media

Jonathan Schultz shared a pic of some Umoja gear:

Jen Garrett shared a behind the scenes look at filming for the upcoming BC Chamber Singers video project.

BC Rural Initiatives shared information about an upcoming mobile vaccine clinic in Arvin on Tuesday, April 27, from 8 am to 1 pm. For more information, visit the Arvin High School website.

And Maria Wright shared this pic of her husband Jamal Wright and their son, who had a close encounter with a dino:


Track and Field and Swimming Get Underway

Both Track and Field and Swimming got their abbreviated Spring II sports season underway this last weekend.

Track and Field traveled to compete at Antelope Valley where they faced not only AVC but also Santa Monica. Both the men and women placed first overall. To view individual T/F results click this link.

The Renegade Swim squad went to Santa Monica where they topped the Corsairs with an overall score of 167-77. The men won 102-19 and the women 65-58. To view individual Swim results click this link. Way to go Renegade T/F and Swim!!

That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever